Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A Safety Play, In a Way

As we learn more about bridge, we may find the ratio of good plays to bad plays gets skewed more toward the bad side. This isn't because we're getting worse but because our standards are changing. Plays that we used to consider to be good become routine and plays that used to be considered double-dummy are now errors because some subtle signal or inference should have made the right play reasonably clear. The Macon sectional just ended and even though technically I am fourth on the masterpoint list for the tournament, I'm claiming a tie for first since I played most of the tournament with the first 3 players, all with 20.89 to my 20.51. So, I must have done lots of good things - they just don't stick out in my mind.

Anyway, this brings me to this deal, in the final round of the Sunday Swiss. We had to beat this team by 3 imps to win the event. I was in 3NT and got a 4th best spade lead from west. What's the best play to make this contract?

♠ AQx
♥ Axx
♦ KT9xxx
♣ x

♠ Kx
♥ Kxx
♦ AJx
♣ J98xx

It looks like you have to get your diamond suit set up and basically not allow then to take 4 clubs and a diamond on defense. As we all know, playing the AK first is the percentage play to take the most diamond tricks. You'll take 6 tricks 58% of the time. Finessing the first round is 50%, while playing and honor and then finessing is somewhere in between. Kind of a hidden thing here is whether is a dangerous opponent that you want to keep off lead. East is a slightly more dangerous opponent in that it will be easier for him to find a club lead than for west to find it. So, finessing diamonds through east is the way to go. But do you cash the K first or not? No, picking up the stiff Q with west is not as important as picking up Qxxx with east but a first round finesse also ensures that if you have to lose a diamond, neither defender will get a chance to give a signal first. So, proper play is to with the Q in dummy and lead the diamond ten, letting it ride if not covered. Since west has KTx in clubs, he could not effectively attack clubs and take 4 tricks. East had to be on lead to lead a low club for the defense to untangle their club tricks. I played AK of diamonds, and when west threw a discouraging spade or lavinthal showing clubs or something equivalent, they had no difficulty beating me a trick.


  1. You would have easily been the leading masterpoint winner if you had played in the pair game Friday afternoon instead of competing with your future teammates in the compact.

  2. yep. i think i would have had no problem scraping up .39 MP in that pair game!